Orientaçoes para elaboração de sistematização de experiências
Written in Portuguese, this guide was prepared as part of the effiorts of EMATER in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. EMATER is the Brazilian extension organisation, for whom systematisation is a practice that is gaining ground.
The text starts with a few definitions, presenting a systematisation process as a "critical interpretation of a practical experience", or as a process of reflexion and analysis which leads to lessons. Building on what different authors say, this guide looks then at the specific objective of a systematisation process, and also at the different types of experiences which such a process can look at. Each of these experiences can be seen and analysed from different perspectives, for which it is important to define the specific focus in which all those involved are interested (such as production techniques, marketing strategies, or the organisation of producers).
How to go about it
A systematisation process is to folow 5 major steps (folowing Jara Holliday, 2006):
- 1. Starting point. Identification of all those who are going to be involved in the process (assuming that those directly involved in each experience will be part of its systematisation), and also of the information already available.
- 2. Initial questions. This is where we define the main focus of the process, looking at (a) why do we want to go through this process, (b) what do we want to look at, and (c) what are the main aspects that we are interested in.
- 3. Capture. This is the time to look at all the activities that took place, and to put all the resulting information in order. Drafting a chronological story is meant to help see all those who were involved in the experience (both directly and indirectly), what they did, and what they think about it. At a later stage, their different opinions and visions are compared and contrasted.
- 4. Reflexion. Next comes the analysis and interpretation of the information gathered, trying to look at why did what happened actually happen.
- 5. Arrival. A final step involves the elaboration of conclusions, and the dissemination of results.
These steps can be further operationalised (defining and identifying, for example, the data and information available and the tools which can be used for obtaining more information), but making a clear difference between a systematisation process as such and the process of writing and presenting the results.
Writing it up
Having looked at the necessary information, this manual then presents a basic structure for a final document. This starts with a cover page, a summary, a list of key words and an introduction, from which the author recommends to add:
- the context on which the experience was found,
- the problem which was to be solved, studied or analysed, together with the specific objectives which the experience had,
- a broad description: what was done, by whom, and how,
- the main results, also considering the impact they have had,
- future possibilities or challenges (as factors which may help the experience grow or develop further)
- main lessons,
- the authors, references, etc.
This guide finishes with some writing tips and with a list of other documents to read (either in Spanish or in Portuguese).